Question 11
Surnames—for both parents and children

Default answer:  The wife will take the surname of the husband.
And all children born will be given the surname of the husband.

     When a woman marries, it is traditional for her to drop her
'maiden' name (the name of her father's family)
and adopt the surname of her husband's father.
His surname becomes their new family name.
And if they have children or adopt children,
all the children will be given the surname of the parents.

     And even if the parents separate or divorce,
the children will continue to have the names given at birth or adoption.
If the mother remarries, she will drop the surname of her previous husband
and adopt the surname of her new husband.
But usually the children will continue with their original names.
(The children's names might be changed
if their biological father gives up parental rights,
if parental rights are taken away from him,
if their father is dead,
and/or if the new husband adopts the children.)

Question 11:     SURNAMES—FOR BOTH PARENTS AND CHILDREN     by James Park     67

Creative answers:  Anything goes.

     First, you might have to settle your own name problem:
1. You could keep your original names—given at birth or adoption.
2. One could adopt the surname of the other.
3. You could create a hyphenated new surname, based on your original surnames.
4. You could invent an entirely new surname for the two of you.
5. One or both could keep your original names for professional uses
and create a new name for family reasons—or the other way around.
You may legally use two names, as long as no fraud is involved.

     Then, if you create or adopt children, you will have to name them.
Normally they would be given the surname of their father.
This patrilineal kinship-system has predominated in most cultures
—ever since the role of fathers in procreation became known.
But some cultures trace lineage thru mothers—and name children accordingly.

     You could also be creative:
1. You could give your girls a surname created from the mother's first name
and your boys a surname created from their father's first name.
(This is the tradition in Iceland.
Russians put the mother's or father's name into the child's middle name.)
2. Your children could be given hyphenated surnames,
even if you do not change your names to be the same.
3. In case of divorce, your children's names can be changed
to match the surname of the custodial parent.
4. In case of the remarriage of the custodial parent,
sometimes the new step-parent will adopt the children,
which might include renaming the children
so that the whole new family has the same surname.
5. When new inheritance rights are included in the new family structure,
the names of your children might be changed
to indicate which family they now belong to.
6. At a certain age, your children could be given the freedom
to choose their own surnames (and their 'given' names as well).
7. Once they become adults, your children are free
to change their names without parental approval.

     Whatever you decide about names
should be put into this part of your relationship contract.
And if you cannot decide at the time of writing or revising your contract,
you should indicate when and how this question will be decided in the future.
Is the naming of your children an important symbolic question for you?


Above you have the entire Question 11 from Designer Marriage.

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Designer Marriage: Write Your Own Relationship Contract

Created April 5, 2009; Revised

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